Friday Fun: Skype
I'm sure that if you had your druthers, you'd bring in every author for your book clubs. Who wouldn't want to? Sometimes access to an author is not possible due to their celebrity status; no one expects to be able to bring in Stephen King or Janet Evanovich to their book club. It's just not feasible. Other times, the author's availability is restricted due to their physical location. Most public libraries don't have the funds to fly an author in from another state, much less another country.
Enter Skype, a free online service that allows you to make phone calls, including video, over your internet connection. One of MPOW is using Skype in just this fashion: bringing authors into their book discussion. They had contacted Scottish author Peter May, who currently lives in France, about taking part in a conference call. May suggested that the library use Skype and they could teleconference the book discussion. Since that first Skype book discussion, they've gone on to do several more, and they make it a point now to reach out to authors for the possibility of taking part in their discussion.
Now, there is a little set up needed on both ends of things; in addition to downloading, installing, and configuring Skype on a library computer, the author needs to do it, too. Thankfully Skype is very easy to use in all aspects. Skype has been around since 2003, but has gained immense exposure in the past six months with people like Oprah and Who Wants to Be a Millionaire using the technology to talk to people. Perhaps not everyone will be able to use it, but it doesn't hurt to ask and perhaps find a way to enhance your book discussion.
And for you authors out there, it may be a great promotional device to be available for Skype teleconferences. I'm just saying.